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Finding the Birthplace of Ludwig von Mises

Mises Daily: Thursday, September 01, 2011 by and

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Akademika Hnatyuk 13
Akademika Hnatyuk 13 in Lviv, Ukraine
Birthplace of Ludwig Von Mises

That Ludwig von Mises was born in Lviv (today, Ukraine, then Austro-Hungary) is familiar to anyone who has studied his life. However, the specific place of his birth until recently remained unknown.

The problem of determining the house in which the famous economist and liberal thinker was born acquired urgency several months ago with an initiative by Ukraine's small Austrolibertarian community to unveil a memorial plaque this September for the 130th anniversary of Ludwig von Mises's birth.

The initial relevant information about the Mises family concerned Ludwig's great-grandfather Ludwig Mayer Rachmiel Mises. According to the website of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv, Ludwig's great grandfather Mayer Rachmiel owned buildings on Market Square 18 and Old Jewish Street 7 (Rynok Square 18 and Starojevreis'ka 7), two prominent addresses in the center of Lviv connected by a courtyard.

Rynok 18
Rynok 18 in Lviv, Ukraine, one of two buildings once owned by Ludwig von Mises's great-grandfather

Documents in the regional archive confirm this information. In the construction book of this archive, you can see joint planning of both buildings and, several times, the signature M.R. Mises. The buildings occupied a sufficiently large area to accommodate several generations of the Mises family, but specific evidence of this has not been found.

The same source revealed that an uncle of Ludwig, Abraham Mises was co-owner of Old Jewish Street 26.

On the website JewishGen.org, which contains a large database of Jewish families, one can see information about the birth of Ludwig and his brother Richard in 1881 and 1883, but without mention of the place of birth. However, the site provides links to archives where this information might be obtained, namely, the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw, which keeps archives regarding Lviv's Jewish community. In response to queries, the archive staff communicated the record of the birth of Ludwig von Mises on September 29, 1881 (book 540, position 867, pages 78–79), but the place of birth was not mentioned.

So, Lviv philosophy professor Dr. Olga Kotovska visited the archives in Warsaw, to finally clarify the issue. The address of the place of birth according to the archival pages is Jagiellonska Street No. 13.

Today, you will not find this street on any map of Lviv. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, this street was renamed several times. Today, it is named in honor of historian and philosopher Volodymyr Hnatiuk (1871–1926) who extensively studied Ukrainian customs, folklore, and identity. The house in which Ludwig von Mises was born is located in the street Akademika Hnatyuk 13. (Various spellings result from different transliteration standards.)

Whether this building was owned by the Mises family or simply rented is still unknown.

A map depicting the addresses mentioned can be found here.